Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The ROI of Multiple Small Releases

In a few minutes how do you explain the benefits of multiple incremental releases to someone new to this agile mindset?  I'm convinced that if I try to use words (which is typically the case when caught in a hallway conversation) or even words and a few quick sketches - I will not do justice to the complex concept.  Why?  Because this concept deals with multiple what if scenarios that play out in long timeframes with little feedback.

So needing to have this conversation today, I had the time to do a search for some help.  And I found this wonderful article and video with a voice over explanation.

Business Benefits of Software Release in Multiple Increments

And there is an interactive Wolfram graphic you can play with yourself.

Now with this link and the video explanation (done with a german accent I think, gives it real authority) - I can solve the problem of coming to that shared understanding.

Understanding the Iterative Incremental approach

I've also found it very difficult to express the true depth of the meaning of the phrase Iterative and Incremental.  Many people confuse these terms for each other - yet they have very distinct meaning in software development.  When combined into an synchronistic term the mean compounds exponentially.  I've yet to be able to explain this phenomenon to my audiences satisfaction, so let me point you to others that will do much better.

The first is Jeff Patton's article Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know How to Get It - Why knowing what you want in agile development may be an impediment to getting it.  The next is Steven Thomas' iteration upon Jeff's attempt, titled Revisiting the Iterative Incremental Mona Lisa.  And he illustrated this article with a riff upon Jeff's Mona Lisa images which I believe were derived from some famous artist, Banksy I think.
Drawing Mona Lisa Iteratively and Incrementally

Now add to that the enlightenment that Joanna Rothman describes in her article Iterations and Increments:
"Iterative approaches do refine the feature as you proceed. Incremental approaches allow you to release something (which you may have refined or not). I like both." 
"Iterative approaches manage technical risk. Incremental approaches manage schedule risk. Agile, which uses both iterative and incremental approaches manage both technical and schedule risk."
Now, I've watched as an artist creates a fine art portrait such as the Mona Lisa.... and all three of these Agile experts are just wrong.  Neither the iterative nor the incremental nor the iterative and incremental process is how Mark Stevenson paints.  It is better described as magic.  I suggest you go watch a master at any creative endeavor work... it cannot be easily explained by a methodologist.  Perhaps that's were we are going wrong...

See Also:

Feedback Loops and "Done" by John Cutler

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